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Leadership learnings from Matanya

I named my business after the horse that taught me more than any course ever did about true leadership. The type of leadership that makes you feel humble, proud and worthy for a prey animal to place their life in your hands above their herd. A leadership that even a parent of a child can apply. Of unwavering trust, reliability and desire to serve. A leadership that creates brave and well balanced human beings.

  1. Learn to recognise and then reward the smallest try responding as quickly as possible. When instructing the try doesn't have to be perfect, it just has to be heading in the right direction. Then once they have the idea, you ask for more specifics and accuracy, faster reaction times.

  2. Work slowly when teaching. Fast creates fear in the beginner student. (Fear can lead to aggressive defensive behaviour).

  3. Have clarity of communication, no mixed messages.

  4. Focus on getting their trust first. You might have their respect but trust is more important.

  5. Don't pull or push too much just ask and hold. Ask politely, don't nag and wait for them to answer, ask or get it.

  6. Whisper don't yell. Use the 4 levels of assertiveness. Even when the student can do it they have good and bad days, but always start at level 1 even though you must be prepared to go to level 4. They may simply be distracted temporarily. Your aim is to get the task completed with the minimum amount of direction and words.

  7. Don't shut them down. Do not remove their rights.

  8. Release and relax, or take time to take the pressure off and celebrate the success. This allows the student time to process and absorb. We are not machines, we need breaks. Even horses need breaks.

  9. Develop emotional intelligence, to use energy appropriately. Nobody in a workplace likes a drama queen or king unless you are in a theatre.

  10. Always ask, how can I do it better. Refine your skills.

A leader's job to keep the herd as safe as possible. This means to make sure they are well trained, doing their job and to discipline or reward when necessary. Horses will often test your leadership, don't be afraid of this, be ready. When the leader is usurped, they simply move down the order to another position because their experience is still valuable within the herd. Never expect because you were a leader of one team you will immediately be a leader of the next.

My biggest thrill was when I could work in harmony with Matanya, without any equipment and because she wanted to. This was called "liberty" which is when the horse has total freedom to run off away from the leader but chooses to dance, play or interact.

Here at the Matanya Effect, we take these lessons, wrap them in a very practical and safe format to develop transformational leaders. Our classroom is the open air and our teachers don't scream, they don't hold subjective opinions or preconceived ideas and don't care if you are a junior in the company or the CEO. You will learn quickly, and retain the knowledge through the experiential pathways that lead you to come up with the answers. Our teachers will test every essential skill you possess and ask you to take them to the next level. It is all done on the ground and it will be asking you to go outside your comfort zone, unravel problems you've never been faced with, but it will always make you a better you. It will be fun, interesting and some say life changing.

Unfortunately I lost Matanya after only 7 years, but I will never forget what she taught me.

We also assist people with anxiety, behaviour and development issues and survivors of trauma. We are based in Kinglake, just outside of Melbourne, Australia, but I am one of many around the world. Equine Assisted learning is now world wide and there are several forms, so if you would like more information simply contact me via our website . We would love to be a part of your leadership journey and that of your teams.

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